The Candle of Love/Thursday-December 14

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 (NASB95)

How does one go from being known as one of the “Sons of Thunder” to the “Apostle of Love”? I’ll tell you how: he was with Jesus! The apostle went from catching fish to catching people, from casting a line to casting love. He clearly understood the beautiful balance of grace and truth.

It’s likely that John was quite a firecracker in his before-Jesus days. As a typical fisherman he would have been rough and weathered and most likely just fine without bathing for days on end! I don’t want to put a description on him that isn’t accurate but my guess is that he wasn’t a people magnet when Jesus beckoned, “Come, follow Me.”

There are many mysteries in Scripture. One that has always peaked my interest is how spending time with Jesus in God’s Word truly changes a person. Becoming more loving is automatic. It’s not something we can do on our own but sincerely walking with Jesus does it for us and through us. John must have understood that.

Being a disciple of Jesus on those dusty roads of Judea would have consisted of a lot of walking and a lot of talking down the road of life. It’s no different for us. The more we walk and talk with Him, the more His love flows through us. We’re no longer a bucket of water that quenches His fire but a spring of water that overflows His love and draws others to His life-giving water.

Living It Out – John said that loving others is a gauge of our relationship with Jesus. Read through 1 John 4 and make a list of what a Jesus follower looks like. How does your love line up with that?

The Candle of Love/Wednesday-December 13

He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
Genesis 22:2 (NASB95)

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
18it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
Hebrews 11:17–19 (NASB95)

Love, belief and sacrifice: they go hand in hand. Have you ever wondered how Abraham could make the journey to the Mount of sacrifice with his son, his only son, knowing what God had instructed him to do when he got there? Without the commentary of Hebrews 11, it almost makes Abraham look like he’d lost his mind or at the very least misunderstood God. Why in the world would the God who called him into covenant and promised him descendants through Issac ask him to kill him?

Maybe it sounds unspiritual to ask that question but when you see how God had revealed Himself up to that point in history, it certainly wasn’t in keeping with His character … or was it?

Do you remember Day 1 of this Advent Adventure? Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and sin entered the human race. Death was the penalty BUT GOD temporarily covered their nakedness, both physical and spiritual, with the skins of animals. The sacrificial system was instituted that day. Blood for blood. Because of His great love for us, God has always provided the sacrifice necessary to cover our sin. Our part is, like Abraham, to believe Him.

God covered sin temporarily until Jesus. Love wrapped in swaddling cloths was the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and he had the faith to believe. Oh, God, give us the faith of Abraham, Your friend.

Living It Out – The Apostle Paul encourages us to examine ourselves to see if our faith is genuine. (2 Corinthians 13:5) Carve out some time today and do that. What better time of year to know for sure that you belong to Jesus!